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NaPoWriMo Day 21: John Osborne – Teachers

Norwich-based poet, writer and performer John Osborne returns with a NaPoWriMo prompt we can all relate to: Teachers. Have a read and listen to John’s poem and then think back on the teachers in your life. There’s sure to be a poem in there somewhere.

What are electrons?

When our physics teacher died
we didn’t have to do physics anymore.
The headmaster wrote to the exam board
who replied with flowers and exemption forms.

Her equations were still on the blackboard
in her handwriting, in her empty classroom.
A pile of our school books still to be marked.
The Van de Graaff generator in the storeroom,
untouched. Our hair will not frizz again
and now we are excused from physics.

We all loved Mrs Allcock so much,
who spoke of us so warmly at parents’ evenings
and would tell us of her pre-teaching life
directing pantomimes, an understudy at the Old Vic,
she wrote the school play
and she’d let us change our own lines.

Every October there was a school trip to Jodrell Bank.
It was supposed to be our turn that year
Our parents had already signed the participation forms
and that’s why it would be unfair
for any of our class to have to obey the laws of gravity.
Physics brings back too many painful memories
and so we float.

John Osborne

John Osborne writes stories, poems and scripts. His poetry has been broadcast on Radio 1, Radio 3, Radio 4, BBC 6Music, XFM and Soho Radio.

www.johnosbornewriter.com

Please share your responses to today’s prompt either in the comments or via email. The best submissions will be featured in future podcasts.

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Books by many of the poets featured on the podcast are available from the Poetry Non-Stop bookshop here. All books purchased via this link help to raise money to keep this podcast going.

NaPoWriMo Day 20: Wendy Hind – Recipe for a new poem

We’re two thirds of the way through Napowrimo! Today Wendy Hind from Tiny Poetry Project makes a welcome return with a prompt that’s a recipe for success.

Cooking up a new poem

Think about a memory related to cooking. It can be about your lack of ability to cook, or your skill in cooking. Maybe it’s about watching someone else cook.

Please take 10 minutes to free write about the first memory that came into your mind with the above prompt. After 10 minutes, pick one small element from what you wrote down and write a poem based on this small segment. More than anything, don’t try to make it perfect – have fun!

My Memory/Poem

THE SUGAR COOKIE RECIPE

The perfectly scripted letters
Are marked with smudges
left by busy manicured hands.
Cream the butter, lard, and sugar.
Do not over beat, the recipe warns.
Add the eggs one at time.
Sift the dry ingredients together,
combine and then chill.

The simple galley kitchen
with Formica counters,
and warm electric oven
hum with impatience.
Finally, the wooden rolling pin
begins spinning at mock-speed,
making a sort of clinking sound
each time its lifted off the dough.

Always wearing a house dress
and pantyhose, reminiscent
of when she came of age in the 20s.
Always wearing a colorful apron
covered with clouds of white dust
appearing like a finger painting.
Always moving with the ease
of performing this ritual, a 1000 times.

Her cloudy blue eyes
look down on me
and wink, while sneaking me
a bit of cookie dough.
Bzzz, the timer startles me.
I carefully set down the
wooden rolling pin with a clinck,
smile, and swallow-up the dough.

Wendy Hind

Please share your responses to today’s prompt either in the comments or via email. The best submissions will be featured in future podcasts.

If you’ve enjoyed this podcast please consider showing your support with a donation via ko-fi.com

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Books by many of the poets featured on the podcast are available from the Poetry Non-Stop bookshop here. All books purchased via this link help to raise money to keep this podcast going.

NaPoWriMo Day 19: Fay Roberts – Clerihews

Today Fay Roberts makes a welcome return with a short, fun prompt the clerihew. Another one that’s idea for social media so do share and tag @poetrynonstop @fayroberts #poetrynonstop

Fay says:

A Clerihew is a short, humorous, faux-biographical poetry form invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley in around 1901 and I really enjoy using it as a warm-up exercise, or a palate-cleanser between more serious pieces. A classical clerihew, if that’s a phrase we can use, only has two rules. If you’re getting more experimental, there’s only one. Ready?

Rule 1: The first line must be a person’s name, and usually only their name.
Rule 2: The rhyme scheme is AABB.

And that’s it! Four lines of verse, the first of which is a name, the next line rhymes with it, and then the further two rhyme with each other. There’s no meter, no syllable count, and the sillier the rhyme and the more ludicrous the unevenness of the line lengths, the better, arguably. While the poem is described as a “biographical” form, it doesn’t actually have to contain many – if any – actual facts about the subject.
One of Bentley’s own most famous clerihews goes like this:

Sir Christopher Wren
Said, “I am going to dine with some men.
If anyone calls
Say I am designing St. Paul’s.”

So write one clerihew, or write a slew of them. For NaPoWriMo, I usually pick a theme and write along those lines, and one year (2019) I asked people to nominate names. Here’s one of mine from then:

Alan Rickman
Would always end his handwritten notes with a stickman.
When asked why he would even do this at home he
Would generally mutter something about the venerable clan called Nakatomi
Lean into the ridiculousness, and enjoy writing very silly rhymes!

Fay is a performance poet, musician, storyteller, geek, and accidental voice artist. Ze has a new book – a kind of poetry concept album called Spectral, which has just come out from Burning Eye Books. You can find out more about that and everything else at: linktr.ee/fayroberts

Please share your responses to today’s prompt either in the comments or via email. The best submissions will be featured in future podcasts.

If you’ve enjoyed this podcast please consider showing your support with a donation via ko-fi.com

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Books by many of the poets featured on the podcast are available from the Poetry Non-Stop bookshop here. All books purchased via this link help to raise money to keep this podcast going.

NaPoWriMo Day 18: David Hanlon – Springtime

Hopefully you’ve all been enjoying some fine spring weather. Today, David Hanlon makes a welcome return in this joyous season and invites us to write about beginnings, renewals and resurrection.

Lifting

This life is made of fence and brick;
warped and crumbling.

The late February sky, malaise-packed with heavy clouds,
has finally cracked.

Trees are worn, satchel brown, licked with ochre and rust,
by nature’s wonder-burnt tongue.

The musky scent of wet wood, permeating.
The red-orange flare of a robin, flickering.

But look, lilac crocuses,
petal pincers, sprouting in clusters,

like tiny feet,
magic circling tree roots,

their amber stamens,
spring’s fireworks,

waiting
to ignite.

David Hanlon

David Hanlon is a confessional poet from Cardiff, Wales, now living in Bristol, England. He is a Best of the Net nominee. You can find his work online in over 40 online magazines. His first chapbook Spectrum of Flight is available for purchase now at Animal Heart Press. You can follow him on twitter @DavidHanlon13

Please share your responses to today’s prompt either in the comments or via email. The best submissions will be featured in future podcasts.

If you’ve enjoyed this podcast please consider showing your support with a donation via ko-fi.com

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Books by many of the poets featured on the podcast are available from the Poetry Non-Stop bookshop here. All books purchased via this link help to raise money to keep this podcast going.

NaPoWriMo Day 17: Daisy Thurston-Gent – Ode

Picture: Rachel Pearson

Your prompt for today, from Daisy Thurston-Gent, is to write an ode. You many think of stuffy, old-fashioned poems but Daisy shows us that the ode can be vibrant, modern and versatile and you can write one about anyone or anything. Below are some pointers and examples from Daisy.

Choose a subject to write your ode about. Spend 2 mins listing everything you can think of that reminds you of that topic, then 15-20 mins writing and 5 mins editing

Ode to Winter 

by the time the speaker blew on a pogues song at full volume / i think we all knew / winter was coming / way that she does / and those who were left drank / to gnarly accordions / and ragged mandolins screeched promise to us / with bad teeth / and we all fell in love / with our young hearts / brushing the crumbs from our best suits.

winter / you are the dirt that holds my family / you are midnight vinyl dancing graceland with poets and their strangers / you are bitter morning tire screech / a kettle freshly screamed / look at you / turning up to work in your pyjamas / huddled kitchen staff under the bright lights of the hot plates / sharing sickness / cinnamon sticks and star anise / always something mulling / frozen bicycle chains / fumbling icicle fingers / a year’s supply of nectar points. 

O’ winter! yours are the stories we can’t lay to rest / exes / restless ghosts and weights that lay heavy in excess / pressing on our chest plates / making us breathless / frozen moments / shouting matches across headlights on frosted drives / it’s a wonderful life.

the tv is on / no one watches / traditions gravy soaked bubble away on a hot stove / mum’s roast potatoes goldening while upstairs she is hoovering / violently / I am lying beneath the christmas tree / breathing the pine / while the cat plays mouse with my trouser leg / needles fall like tiny samurai swords either side of me / the trifle dish lies smashed on the doorstep for the rest of the year / of course there is a fire / skin crackling / a child / singing winter night / seeing their breath / disappear / for the first time.

Daisy Thurston-Gent

Daisy is a writer and producer from Cambridge. She is a founding member of London Queer Writers, a creative network curating regular live poetry events and monthly online writing workshops for the LGBTQ+ community. She is one half of Radio Xaddy, a brave little podcast about Queer history and culture and co-host of Queer Cambridge on Cambridge 105fm.

Please share your responses to today’s prompt either in the comments or via email. The best submissions will be featured in future podcasts.

If you’ve enjoyed this podcast please consider showing your support with a donation via ko-fi.com

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Books by many of the poets featured on the podcast are available from the Poetry Non-Stop bookshop here. All books purchased via this link help to raise money to keep this podcast going.

NaPoWriMo Day 16: Olly Watson – Listen in

For today’s NaPoWriMo prompt Olly Watson invites us to do a little eavesdropping. An excellent source of inspiration:

I love to steal lines from people. Not other poets but from everyday conversations. Spend half an hour just sat somewhere where there are people or just open your ears in your everyday routine and listen for the one or two phrases that pop up everyday that can lead to something. I try to write down what ever I hear, so I can go back to it later and then play around with it.

Your Ear to Mine

A friend told me about her little boy,
how on Christmas Eve she had asked him if he could hear the bells.
“Father Christmas is coming,” she’d said.
He’d turned to her, this boy who loved dinosaurs, and replied,
“put your ear next to my ear mummy and then I can hear what you’re hearing.”

I thought of you then.
That time in the Doctors, when you told me how impressed you were
with how I had described my feelings.
“Brought them to life,” you’d said.

It’s all I’ve tried to do ever since.

You’re Mum not Mummy now,
and I’m not sure if either of us hear the bells any more,
but put your ear to mine
and we can try.

Olly Watson

Olly Watson is a thatcher not a poet so has absolutely no clue how he has managed to convince loads of people to put him on stage. He has gigged all over the country including four solo shows at the Edinburgh Fringe, often to crowds in the tens of people, runs his own poetry night in Norwich and was a 2017 National poetry slam finalist. It is true that he’s a much better thatcher than he is a poet, but he is a damn fine thatcher.

Please share your responses to today’s prompt either in the comments or via email. The best submissions will be featured in future podcasts.

If you’ve enjoyed this podcast please consider showing your support with a donation via ko-fi.com

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Books by many of the poets featured on the podcast are available from the Poetry Non-Stop bookshop here. All books purchased via this link help to raise money to keep this podcast going.

NaPoWriMo Day 15: Jerry Gordon – Augury poem

We’re halfway through NaPoWriMo and it’s a good time to spend some quiet time, taking in our surroundings and finding the poetry within. Jerry Gordon‘s prompt is ideal for that:

Write an Augury poem

Let me first explain a bit about what Augury is. Kind of like reading tea leaves or the patterns left by coffee in a cup, augury was an ancient practice for telling the future or making decisions. An Augur would read a space and time, and then interpret whatever happened inside that space and time. So, to write an Augury Poem, you first need to decide on where you are going to look, and when. For example, you can look through the frame of a window for how long it takes you to drink your coffee. Or, you can decide the area between two cars for the 10-minutes you decide to watch is the space/time frame. Then, whatever enters the frame while you observe it can be included and interpreted in poetic ways. You, as the writer/augur, get to Augment their importance through your imagination. Meanings and values are up to the writer to decide or creatively generate.

Augury Poem

There is a woman here
with beautiful ankles
and her thin sweater
on inside out.
She works
on something requiring
sheets of paper
and repeated reference.
She moves
between her phone
and folder
and smoldering smoke.
At the moment she is
putting her hands
over her face
as though there may be
answers to find
in darkness,
in hiding,
in touching her skull
in wonder.

The street grinds
three meters away.
A building goes up,
hammer after hammer.
Sports cars creep by.

Beyond,
a blue sky
beyond
autumn clouds.

Jerry Gordon

Jerry Gordon is a writer, teacher and improviser living in Osaka, Japan. His novel Terminalian Drift was published in 2021 and is available from Triarchy Press at https://www.triarchypress.net/terminalia.html and as an audio book from 3CMPress at https://moontriangle.bandcamp.com/album/terminalian-drift

Please share your responses to today’s prompt either in the comments or via email. The best submissions will be featured in future podcasts.

If you’ve enjoyed this podcast please consider showing your support with a donation via ko-fi.com

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Books by many of the poets featured on the podcast are available from the Poetry Non-Stop bookshop here. All books purchased via this link help to raise money to keep this podcast going.

NaPoWriMo Day 14: Jane Kite – Patched up and repaired

We’re two weeks into NaPoWriMo! I hope you’re still having fun and doing lots of writing. Here’s today’s prompt from Jane Kite.

Today I’d like you to think about and write about something you’ve mended or someone else has mended.  It might be something tangible – the last two things I mended were the pipe at the back of the washing machine after it flooded the kitchen and a hole in my favourite gloves which had been annoying me for months and took only about a minute when I finally got round to stitching it – or it can be something intangible like mending a relationship or mending the world.  You could think about how different your chosen subject is before it broke, while it was broken and after it was repaired, or what tools and abelites you needed to do it.  

My poem is about patching up my accent after I’d lost the one I grew up with.

Patch

Where your accent was removed they stitched a scrap
of flower-print cotton from a summer frock
sewn with shirring elastic – you can stretch those vowels out
and sound not at all like anyone you ever knew.
Accent is like soil, rock, family.

Where it was taken there’s a hole.
A virtual laryngectomy was done
and they might as well have cut into your brain.
Patch it with flesh-pink plastic or pirate black,
accent is like wood-grain, skin-silk, velvet.

The gap closed over with hard scar tissue.
It might crack at screaming pitch, just a little bit
and there’s an oddness you can’t quite give a name to,
as if you’ve come from nowhere, no patch.
Accent is like cast-iron, dog-ears, wear-and-tear,

falls from a tongue tip, lives in the momentary
stopping of a glottis in the quirk of a mouth.
Then it’s a guessing game, where do you come from,
how can you patch it right.
Accent is like river, land, property, like family.

Jane Kite

Jane Kite lives in Otley, West Yorkshire.  Her collection Distaff and pamphlet Phobia and the girl published by Half Moon Press, are available via her website janekite.co.uk.  A pamphlet The Blanket will be published in April 2022 by Maytree Press.

Please share your responses to today’s prompt either in the comments or via email. The best submissions will be featured in future podcasts.

If you’ve enjoyed this podcast please consider showing your support with a donation via ko-fi.com

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Books by many of the poets featured on the podcast are available from the Poetry Non-Stop bookshop here. All books purchased via this link help to raise money to keep this podcast going.

NaPoWriMo Day 13: Rychard Carrington – Irregular rhyme

To rhyme or not to rhyme? Maybe a bit of both. Rychard Carrington invites you to experiment with irregular rhyme for today’s NaPoWriMo prompt. See Rychard’s irregular rhyming poem below.

Family in a car

Daddy’s at the driving wheel,
Mummy sitting next to him,
Children on the back seat.
Oh, it’s a family in a car.

Mummy passes the sweeties,
Children say ‘thank you, Mummy’,
Daddy says ‘ta’.
How very nice,
It’s a family in a car.

Whence are they heading?
Will they score a birdie,
A bogie or a par?
We’ll find out, won’t we?
The family in a car.

God, on his lap,
Will unravel a map,
A direction for them to travel.
The family in a car.

Ma, you’re a star,
Pa, you’re a star,
Children, you should go far.
Hats off, humanity,
To the family in a car.

Rychard Carrington,
February 2022

Rychard Carrington is a human being. He lives 150 yards from the Irish Sea. He has written poems in the morning, afternoon, evening and night. He is a former landlord of Patrick Widdess.

Please share your responses to today’s prompt either in the comments or via email. The best submissions will be featured in future podcasts.

If you’ve enjoyed this podcast please consider showing your support with a donation via ko-fi.com

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Books by many of the poets featured on the podcast are available from the Poetry Non-Stop bookshop here. All books purchased via this link help to raise money to keep this podcast going.

NaPoWriMo Day 12: Beth Hartley – Mothra

Picture: Ken Cumberlidge

Beth Hartley makes a welcome return to Poetry Non-Stop with a poetic form of her own devising – the mothra.

Beth says: I accidentally invented this form in NaPoWriMo in 2020. It’s a sibling to the syllable decreasing form “Abracadabra”.

In a Mothra, the first line has one word, the second line has two, the third three and so on up to eleven words/lines. The second stanza goes the other way, from eleven words to one. It results in a vaguely moth shaped poem, hence its name.

You can find this and other concrete and repeating forms on the Allographic Google Sheet
Repeating and Concrete Poetry Forms.

For inspiration – have a look on your social media for accounts that feature photography of your local area, or an account like Storm Hour, which has weather photography.
Otherwise: combine with any other prompt for the day that you like.

Here is my first one – which ended up being the titular poem for my collection “What if Stars” which was published by Allographic Press in 2021.

A long wave

What
if stars
were telling us
everything about the universe?
The vastness of space means
the message comes in tiny fragments
and we are not yet slow enough
to catch up on all the star views.
Because we haven’t listened long enough to find out,
and shards have slipped past through ages and into rockets,
their fuselages dented by the stories being told by our galaxy?

This is why we don’t know, we are only hearing fractions.
We see their speech like spatter on our windscreen, black
and full of specks we can’t interpret, unless we
learn to tune in slower and take time
to understand, decode, decipher, dream and find.
A fuller picture of everything existing.
Imagine what we might discover
if we caught all
the little scraps;
what if
stars?

Please share your responses to today’s prompt either in the comments or via email. The best submissions will be featured in future podcasts.

If you’ve enjoyed this podcast please consider showing your support with a donation via ko-fi.com

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Books by many of the poets featured on the podcast are available from the Poetry Non-Stop bookshop here. All books purchased via this link help to raise money to keep this podcast going.